If you think the Philippine criminal justice system is rotten and our policemen and prosecutors are bad, you should look at the case of Trayvon Martin.
On a rainy night of February 26, 2012, Martin was a 17-year-old black wearing a dark hooded sweater, drinking a canned juice and nibbling a Skitties chocolate bar while walking home inside a gated quiet Sanford, Florida half-white community where he was temporarily staying when noticed by an armed, bulky, eager-beaver off-duty volunteer watchman named George Zimmerman, 29.
Out on a grocery errand, Zimmerman claimed the hooded youngster was walking casually in the rain, triggering his suspicion.
He testified in print: “He was just walking casually, not like he was trying to get out of the rain,” and he felt “something was off” about Martin.
“I felt he was suspicious because it was raining. He was in-between houses, cutting in-between houses, and he was walking very leisurely for the weather . . . It didn’t look like he was a resident that went to check their mail and got caught in the rain and was hurrying back home. He didn’t look like a fitness fanatic that would train in the rain,” Zimmerman told a tv interviewer.
Moral of this story: Run when raining. If you walk, you might be up to no good.
“This guy looks like he is up to no good,” Zimmerman told a non-emergency police line minutes before the incident. He also told the police on the phone the guy is a punk. He blurted out expletives. The police dispatcher told him not to follow Martin, blaring “we don’t need you to do that.” Zimmerman did, driving his truck.
At about the same time, Martin was calling a lady friend to complain that someone was following him. He described the stalker as “crazy and creepy”. If Zimmerman had obeyed the police dispatcher’s order, Martin would still be alive today. Besides, the police were on their way anyway to the scene of the incident.
At that point, Martin decided to run—or rather walk briskly. This gave Zimmerman an excuse to run after him. They apparently had an altercation and a scuffle followed.
Out of his truck, Zimmerman was overpowered by the younger man. His head was banged against concrete. There were shouts for help. Was it Zimmerman? Martin? Voice experts couldn’t say for sure. But Zimmerman drew his gun and shot Martin in the chest, from a distance of less than 18 inches from gunpoint. About 70 yards from the door of the apartment he was staying, Martin lay bleeding face down on the ground his hands raised up and motionless.
Two minutes after the gunshot, policemen arrived, saw Zimmerman still holding his fatal gun. Nobody gave first aid to Martin. He was brought to a morgue and without an ID, was tagged as a John Doe overnight until the morning of February 27 when his relatives filed a Missing Person police report.
Apparently, the responding police didn’t do a thorough job securing the crime scene and saving crucial pieces of evidence on the night of the killing and weeks after that.
Zimmerman, of German father and Peruvian mother, was treated on the spot for his injuries but was handcuffed, brought to the police station, and questioned for five hours.
He was allowed to go home, take a rest and sleep as a free man. He was not given a drug or alcohol test. He was not arrested nor charged—until 40 days later when protests erupted over his kid glove treatment. The Sanford police chief was also fired. The original police investigator asked to be reassigned after he was accused of bias against blacks and for Zimmerman.
Inept scene of the crime police work and an even more inept ersatz prosecution enabled Zimmerman to come clean. Self defense, he claimed. Accused of murder, his trial began on June 10, 2013. On Sunday, July 14 (July 13 in Florida), after 16 hours of deliberation, an all-woman, all-white jury believed his version of the killing, in the absence of contrary evidence, and found him not guilty, either for second degree murder nor for manslaughter.
A Florida statute, called the Stand Your Ground Law, enables a killer to invoke self defense if he feels he faces grave harm or death. Twenty other US states have adopted the Stand Your Ground law which is a formula for senseless murder by gun maniacs.
If Martin was not black, would Zimmerman have suspected him of being up to no good for not running despite the rain?
If Zimmerman was not white, would the police have allowed him to go home the night of the killing and not arrested nor charged for the next 40 days until after a popular outrage?
If the victim Martin was not black, would an all-white, all-woman jury have acquitted Zimmerman?
If Zimmerman were really innocent, would he still be in hiding, wearing a bullet-proof vest, and always looking behind his back?